EU ambassador pledges instant aid if Japan asks for it

The European Union (EU) would react “immediately” to a request for help by Japan, the EU’s ambassador in the country stressed.Hans Dietmar Schweisgut told the Kurier newspaper today (Tues): “Several EU member states already sent support teams to Japan. The EU crisis aid mechanism can only be activated after an official request by an affected country.”The Austrian diplomat added: “Japan has so far not officially applied for help. The EU will respond to such a request immediately.”Schweisgut, who has represented the EU in Tokyo since the beginning of this year, said around 30,000 citizens of EU countries were believed to be in Japan which was hit by a strong quake and tsunamis last week.Schweisgut explained: “It is not possible to establish a more precise figure since embassies are depending on voluntary information by the people.”Speaking about the general situation in the Asian island state, the diplomat – who is married to a Japanese woman – said: “The Japanese society is known for being very loyal and disciplined in such extraordinary occasions.”He added that people were constantly aware of the possibility of an earthquake and the consequences of such an incident.Tens of thousands of people were killed by the quake and the tsunami waves. The region of Sendai was affected worst by the natural catastrophe. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at the weekend the current situation could be the worst crisis his country has been in since World War Two. The politician controversially also pointed out the economic opportunities the devastations were allegedly posing.Meanwhile, hundreds of Austrians have left Japan in the past few days. Austrian Airlines (AUA) decided yesterday to start offering flights from Narita International Airport (NRT) near Tokyo to Vienna International Airport (VIA).The company abandoned the service at the weekend amid fears of increased nuclear radiation due to detonations at a nuclear power plant situated just a few hundred kilometres from the capital of Japan.Austrian judo star Ludwig Paischer was among the many Austrians who landed safely at VIA last week. The 2008 Olympic Games silver medallist was in Japan to prepare for upcoming competitions.